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Annual event draws local residents for fun, fireworks

July 4, 2012

By MATT CRANE
sdnlife@bellsouth.net

Hundreds of community members gathered Wednesday to celebrate the Fourth of July at the Starkville Sportsplex.

Beginning at 6 p.m., crowds formed on the Sportsplex soccer fields ready with lawn chairs, coolers and sports equipment in anticipation for the fireworks display held at the end of the evening.

The Starkville Tea Party gave away free hotdogs at the event, a service which member Jud Ward said was nice because the community comes together to celebrate.

“It feels really good, and this is what it’s all about,” Ward said. “We’re here letting people know that we care.”

The Tea Party prepared 900 hotdogs for the event, and were on hand to give away small American flags and pocket-sized versions of the Constitution.

Boy Scout organizers Susan Merrell of local Pack 14 and Rick Maiers of local Troop 14 said scout members were excited to participate in the event and help with some of the entertainment.

“The troop has been providing community games for this for years, and it’s always a blast,” Merrell said. “The boys love any opportunity to get out and do a project.”

Another event staple, John Robert Arnold, was on hand providing ice cream for the patriotic event, a tradition he has kept for over 30 years.

“I just got into the habit of doing it, I guess, but I enjoy it,” Arnold said. “People look forward to this every year, and it’s all about coming and seeing what Starkville has going on.”

Scheduled festivities for the event included live musical entertainment from the Arnold Peters Happy Singers, a group which Arnold said has been together since the late 1970s, and fireworks.

GREENWOOD (AP) — A 70-year-old oncologist accused of hiring two men to kill the lawyer who represented his ex-wife when they divorced in the 1990s has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court for bail.

Leflore County courts have denied bond for Dr. Ralph Arnold Smith Jr., who is charged with plotting to kill Greenwood attorney Lee Abraham and in the death of one of the hit men he allegedly hired.

The petition was filed on June 29. The Supreme Court has not acted on the petition.

Court documents show that in exchange for bail, Smith is offering to give up his passport, wear an electronic monitoring device and be put under a form of house arrest that would still allow him to treat cancer patients at his Greenwood clinic.

Smith has been in jail since April 29 — the day after a shootout at Abraham’s law office in Greenwood.

Smith is charged with two counts of conspiring to kill Abraham and one count of capital murder in the death of Keaira Byrd. Smith allegedly hired Byrd to carry out a hit on Abraham. Byrd was killed by authorities during the shootout. Authorities had been alerted by Abraham. Abraham was not hurt.

Another alleged shooter, Derrick Lacy, was wounded. Lacy, 25, is charged with capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder and is out on house arrest.

Cordarious Robinson, 22, of Greenwood and Paul Muller, 54, of Morgan City are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder and out on bond. Smith allegedly paid Robinson $15,000 to recruit hit men to kill Abraham. Investigators have not said what Muller’s alleged connection is.

In his petition to the Supreme Court, Smith’s lawyers are asking that for bail of $200,000. The petition said Smith is not a flight risk based on professional and family ties. It said Smith is the father of nine children; two of them are minors of whom Smith has joint custody, it said.

Smith’s wife, Mary, said in an affidavit accompanying the petition that she has his passport and will turn it over to the Leflore County circuit clerk or whomever else the court stipulates if he is granted bail. She promised to personally monitor the conditions of bail, saying she’s retired and available around the clock.

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